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Special Feature: Leisure at home
Participation in home leisure
Home leisure activities are generally non-physical or passive. They are relatively inexpensive, generally accessible at times which suit the participant, and the amount of time spent on them is easily managed. These general characteristics affect participation in home leisure activities.
In 1992, 95% of people participated in some home leisure activity on an average day. Participation in home leisure activities generally increased with age. This may be because most home leisure activities are passive in nature, inexpensive and do not require access to transport.
Watching television (TV) was the most popular home leisure activity. 71% of people watched TV at home on an average day. Although watching TV was popular among all age groups, proportionally more older people watched than younger people. 55% of people spent some time relaxing on an average day. As with watching TV, older people engaged in this activity more than younger people.
21% of people participated in each of socialising at home (having visitors) and reading newspapers, but participation patterns varied across age groups. The proportion of people who socialised ranged between 19% of those aged 45-54 and 26% of those aged 65 and over. Reading newspapers was relatively uncommon among young people, with 8% of those aged 15-24 participating. The proportion of people reading newspapers increased with age, reaching 40% among those aged 65 and over.
8% of people listened to the radio as a main activity on an average day. It is likely that many more people actually listened to the radio but they did so as a secondary activity while doing something else.
Watching videos and playing computer games were more popular with younger people than older people but they had relatively low overall participation rates. This is partly because these activities do not tend to be undertaken daily.
PARTICIPATION IN SELECTED HOME LEISURE ACTIVITIES, 1992
Time spent on home leisure activities
In 1992 people who spent time on home leisure spent an average of nearly 4 hours a day with little difference between men and women. People aged 65 and over who engaged in home leisure spent 77% of their daily leisure time at home. This represented almost 6 hours a day. In comparison, people aged 15-24 who engaged in home leisure spent 51% of their daily leisure time at home, representing about 3 hours a day.
People who watched television did so for an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes a day, 2 hours and 35 minutes for men and 2 hours and 12 minutes for women. While watching TV is accessible, inexpensive and passive, its popularity perhaps also lies in its ability to cater for a wide range of audience tastes and preferences. People aged 65 and over who watched TV spent the most time on this activity, 3 hours and 9 minutes a day. Those aged 35-44 spent the least time watching, 2 hours and 5 minutes a day. People who watched TV as a secondary activity while doing something else did so for an average of 1 hour a day.
People who spent time socialising engaged in this activity for an average of 1 hour and 41 minutes a day. Time spent on socialising was about the same for all age groups and both men and women. While only 1% of men and 8% of women participated in arts, crafts or hobbies on an average day, those who did so spent a relatively long time on this activity. Men spent an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes a day and women spent an average of 1 hour and 53 minutes a day. People who listened to recorded music, listened to the radio, read newspapers or exercised at home spent an average of less than 1 hour a day on these activities.
AVERAGE TIME SPENT PER DAY ON HOME LEISURE BY PARTICIPANTS, 1992
Source: Time Use Survey
AVERAGE TIME SPENT ON SELECTED HOME LEISURE ACTIVITIES BY PARTICIPANTS, 1992
Home leisure products
Throughout the 20th century, technological advances have been used to develop new home leisure products. These products have played an important role in shaping patterns of leisure consumption in the home. For example, the widespread use of radio from the 1930s, television from the 1950s, and video cassette recorders (VCRs) and personal computers (PCs) from the 1980s and 1990s have fundamentally altered the home leisure landscape.
The further potential for change resulting from the latest developments in interactive multi-media is reflected in the government's 1994 cultural policy statement, Creative Nation, which states 'Interactive multi-media has the potential to become a new force in education, art, culture and service, and the biggest information business in the world.'2
Since the introduction of television in Australia in 1956, the number of households with TV sets has increased steadily. By 1991, 99% of households had at least one TV set. The high rate of TV penetration reflects the medium's ability to cater for a wide audience. Watching TV is also a largely passive and low cost activity allowing participation by virtually everyone. Patterns of TV watching are easily managed, particularly since the introduction of the VCR. The home TV set is also increasingly the core of a complete home entertainment system.
VCR ownership increased slowly in the late 1970s and early 1980s as video technology developed. However, between 1981 and 1993 the percentage of households with VCRs increased from 3% to 80%. During this time the number of households with VCRs grew from about 150,000 to almost 4.5 million and the number with two or more VCRs grew from 10,000 to 437,000.
The increased ownership of VCRs is related to their increasing affordability and the availability of feature films in video format. In 1976 the average price of a VCR was $4,684 in 1989-90 dollars. By 1993 the average price in 1989-90 dollars had decreased to $446. In 1978 there were only two feature film titles available on video; by 1993, 33,000 titles were available.
Household ownership of compact disc players (CDs) grew steadily from 4% in 1986 to 33% in 1993. In 1984, 390,000 discs were sold. In 1992, just over 26.5 million discs were sold.
Household ownership of PCs increased from 26% in 1991 to 29% in 1993. In this time the number of PCs in homes grew from 151,000 to 175,000. In 1994, 18% of households had a PC dedicated to games and used regularly by household members3.
HOUSEHOLDS WITH TVs, VCRs, CDs AND PCs
Source: Bureau of Transport and Communications Economics (1994) Statistical summary of the Communications, Entertainment and Information Industries
1 Bell, D. (1974) The coming of post-industrial society: a venture in social forecasting Heinemann.
2 Creative Nation (1994) Government Cultural Policy Statement.
3 Household Use of Information Technology (8128.0).